Instagram founders clash with Zuckerberg, leave Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - The founders of Instagram are leaving Facebook Inc after growing tensions with chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg over the direction of the photo-sharing app, people familiar with the matter said.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who have been at the company since Instagram's acquisition by Facebook in 2012, were frustrated with an unusual uptick in day-to-day involvement by Zuckerberg, who is now more reliant on Instagram for Facebook's future growth.

The New York Times earlier reported Systrom and Krieger's departure.

The founders confirmed their departure in a blog post, although Facebook didn't immediately have a comment on the tension.

The two built Instagram and sold it to Facebook for US$1 billion six years ago.

Instagram, which now has more than one billion users, is a key driver of revenue for Facebook.

The social media giant's shares posted the biggest one-day stock-market wipeout in American history in July after sales and user growth disappointed investors.

@mikeyk and I are grateful for the last eight years at Instagram and six years with the Facebook team. We’ve grown from 13 people on the team to over a thousand with offices around the world, all while building products used and loved by a community of over one billion. We’ve loved learning to scale a company and nurture an enormous global community. And we couldn’t have done it without our amazing Instagram team, and the support of @zuck, @sherylsandberg, @schrep, and @chriscox at Facebook - we’ve learned so much from all of you. Now, we’re ready for our next chapter. We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do. We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to just two users in a billion. Thank you for being part of Instagram’s community. It’s been (and will continue to be) an honor 🙌🏻

"We're planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again," Systrom said in a statement on the Instagram blog. "Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that's what we plan to do."

While Facebook has endured scandals on privacy, fake news and election interference, Instagram's brand has remained mostly untarnished, and continued to grow past one billion monthly users globally. Facebook, which is running out of people in the world to add to its product, has become increasingly reliant on the photo-sharing app for its future.

 

The company has started mentioning Instagram more frequently on its earnings calls and taking credit for its success.

In the most recent call, Zuckerberg explained that Instagram grew twice as fast being part of Facebook as it could have on its own, a statement that many Instagram insiders felt was unnecessary and unprovable.